Queensland’s best wineries and cellar doors
Wine time is anytime, in all honesty. And the sunshine state is having its moment in the sun with wineries galore gaining good ground on the ‘Old Boys’ of the Australian wine scene. (Ahem… we’re looking at you Barossa and the Hunter Valley).
From the Granite Belt’s stalwarts and alternative champions to boutique operations with the most unexpected of terroirs, there’s no stopping these Queensland wineries on the rise.
Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt
Ballandean Estate Wines
With one of the best cellar door experiences, Ballandean Estate is making a name for its alternative – or Strange Bird – varietals, as well as its dry whites and premium reds using grapes from two vineyards in Ballandean.
One of the must-dos on the Granite Belt wine trail, it’s also a great place for an authentic Italian meal from the Barrel Room Cafe.
Hidden Creek Winery
Taking the title of Queensland Wine Awards’ 2018 Winery of the Year, Hidden Creek is a stop you’ll want to add to your Granite Belt wine hop pronto.
While their Ballandean estate – which sits at almost 1000 metres elevation – has been established since 1989, owners Andy and Leanne Williams (and pooch Pepper) took over in 2016 and have certainly made their mark.
Grab a picnic hamper from the cafe and sample your way through their 2018 award-winning drips by the water.
Balancing Rock Wines
They may be newbies to the Queensland wine scene, but David and Lori Broadbent of Balancing Rock are already making waves with their award-winning vinos.
Since founding their Stanthorpe vineyard in 2016, the couple have taken out multiple wins in the last two Queensland Wine Awards, with 2018 earning them Champion Wine of Show with their 2015 Reserve Sagrantino and Champion Alternative Variety Red with the 2015 Reserve Sagrantino.
Another Granite Belt MVP, Symphony Hill is a James Halliday mainstay, earning the 5-star rating three years in a row and picking up plenty of other credit and awards for their well-made drop in their 15 + years of operation.
Their signature red, the Reserve Shiraz, is even fit for royalty: it was served to Wills and Kate when the couple came to Brisbane in 2014.
Created by a wine-loving collective in 1997, Summit Estate is can’t-miss on the Granite Belt trail. With a top-notch selection of wines and a slick cellar door experience, they’re another champion of the Strange Bird varieties (and a part of the Strange Bird Alternative Wine Trail through the Granite Belt).
Head to the Barrel Bar for a cheese and wine matching session and sip on wines like Tempranillo or make your way to the Aroma Room to school up on all things wine.
Robert Channon Wines
Verdelho fan? Robert Channon’s your man. James Halliday once called these verdelhos the best he’s ever tasted, but that’s just the start of it.
Home to a nice selection of reds and rosés, some miniature horses and a canine receptionist named JS Bark, the winery (10 minutes from Stanthorpe) is a delightful combination of quirky and charming. If the timing’s right, you might even catch a concert in the irreverently named Swigmore Hall.
Twisted Gum is a boutique and sustainable winery in Ballandean owned and operated by Tim and Michelle Coelli. Using dry grown grapes, they produce everything from shiraz to chardonnay, and grapes are hand-pruned and picked by the couple, their four children and their crew.
Taste the fruits of their labour in the character-filled old Queenslander that makes up their cellar door, or make a weekend of it with a stay in the renovated 1920s cottage.
With hugely limited production – only 100 to 160 bottles of each varietal every year – Tobin Wines steadfastly sticks to their philosophy of minimal interference in the winemaking process.
The winemakers are fastidious and thorough, focusing on terroir (as the French say; a sense of place where the grapes grow) and fruit quality, something that shows in the calibre of wine.
Unlike mass-produced wines, Tobin Wines are harder to get your hands on outside the cellar door, so hit the road to Ballandean and get your hands on a few of these bottles.
If red wine is your jam, then Boireann is all your prayers answered in vineyard form.
Specialising in full-bodied, full-flavoured red wines (made from French and Italian varieties), the small winery near Stanthorpe made its way onto James Halliday’s Top 100 wineries list and listed as a Top 5 Winery for 2017.
Golden Grove Estate
Another James Halliday star performer, Golden Grove is an unassuming, small-scale winery putting out most impressive drops from the Ballandean Valley.
Here you’ll find plenty of alternative wine varieties like malbec and mourvedre and durif, and the usual suspects if you like to stick with what you know. Do yourself, and your wine collection, a favour: bag a few bottles of the 2012 Vintage Grand Reserve Tempranillo.
Ocean View Estates
The award-winning wines and delectable eats are enough to lure the crowds, but the Honnef family recently added craft brewery to the offer thanks to daughter Hannah’s (now head brewer) love of beer.
Be part of the ‘Fight of the Ferment’ between father and daughter by taking part in a Vine & Bine experience, a special menu paired with wines and beers from either side of the battle lines.
Family-owned and awarded to the hilt, Sirromet is basically Queensland winery royalty. The majority of their grapes may come from a vineyard in the Granite Belt but their Mount Cotton HQ is where all the action happens.
From weddings to music festivals (A Day on the Green is held here every year, with music legend Sir Elton John hitting the stage in 2020), Sirromet Wines has helped advance the Queensland wine cause by leaps and bounds.
The cellar door experience is state-of-the-art so make sure you plan a day trip to experience all of the Sirromet glory.
Flame Hill Vineyard
High on a breezy hill in the Sunshine Coast hinterland sits Flame Hill Vineyard, so named for the vermillion-shrouded Illawarra Flame Trees that pepper the Montville property.
Dedicated to sustainability and their paddock-to-plate philosophy, the gourmet restaurant and kitchen garden is a destination in itself, perfect for long boozy lunches with friends.
Home to an annual grape harvest festival (called Stomp), the vineyard also doubles as a B&B with two renovated 1920s dairy cottages taking guests year round.
If a country jaunt is on the cards, head to the 430-acre Moffatdale vineyard to see what all the fuss is about and sample the 2010 Semillon, the recent winner of Queensland Wine Awards’ Champion Mainstream Variety White Wine.
Canungra Valley Vineyards
Canungra Valley Vineyards sits on a clear, babbling creek at the foothills of the Gold Coast Hinterland’s Scenic Rim, producing wine for both the public and its sister business, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Set up at the bar in the old homestead building for a tasting with one of the very friendly and knowledgeable staff or organise for a picnic basket and bottle next to the creek (completely catered, picnic basket and all).
Witches Falls Winery
When Jon Heslop left the Hunter Valley in search of something to call his own, people called him crazy. Now, Witches Falls is one of Queensland’s best wineries and listed in the James Halliday Wine Companion Top 5 Winery for 2018.
Experimenting with methods like wild fermentation and co-inoculation, Witches Falls’ intimate cellar door in Mount Tamborine makes for very interesting – and educational – tastings.